Ravens fan Jeff Hinton has been going to games with the same four friends since the team came to Baltimore. The crew of five always arrives early for the tailgating festivities, and each member has a special role they play within the group: one guy cooks and the other four bartend.
This is tailgating Ravens style, and Hinton has spent 13 years perfecting the art: A fully stocked bar on a portable table, a grill that holds eight steaks flipped by Ravens grill tools, an array of Ravens chairs arranged under a Ravens tent, all to be enjoyed while decked out in officially licensed Ravens clothing. For the recent game against the Cleveland Browns, the cook prepared steak, cream of crab soup, crab cakes, and Caesar’s Salad eaten, naturally, with Ravens plates and napkins.
Even for a dedicated fan like Hinton who was willing to put in the time, finding Ravens gear in one place was hard. “There was nowhere,” said the Sykesville resident. That is when Hinton decided to open his own store....
At first he went out on his own, opening a kiosk that sold Ravens merchandise like jerseys, pencils and other small items, “but that wasn’t doing it,” said Hinton. “I wanted to provide for the ‘whole NFL experience.’ For me, I’m a tailgater, and I want to see tailgating equipment. Someone else may be a home theater person and their ‘whole NFL experience’ is having a line of Eagles recliners pointing at their TV. I wanted a store that could provide for the ‘whole NFL experience’ however a fan wants to experience it.”
To accomplish that, Hinton joined forces with Finksburg, Md.-resident Marc Heyman and they opened HomeGamers. The one-stop shop has a 9,500 square foot showroom showcasing licensed sporting goods merchandise for the NBA, NCAA, NFL, MLB and college teams. The store also carries home theater and gameroom gear including air hockey tables, arcade games, foosball tables and home bars.
Business has been brisk since they opened in March 2007 and they are expanding nationally through franchising. Their first franchise opened last week in Waldorf, Md.
Here's another article on this cool franchise concept.